Ventana Big Sur, an Alila Resort – Adults Only
What We Love
- On-site art gallery (just outside the restaurant) features work by local artists and craftspeople
- Two Japanese hot baths are serene spots to unwind and stargaze
- The impressive library, stocked with 1,200 books, is a bibliophile's heaven
What To Know
- This is an adults-only resort
- The ocean views are impressive but distant
- There are two identical pool areas—one is clothing-optional, the other for the more modest
- Adults Only
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
Built in 1975 by Hollywood producer Lawrence Spector with the profits from the hugely successful motorcycle classic Easy Rider, these cedar-and-redwood cabins were designed to blend into and be at one with the landscape. A total renovation in 2008 preserved the high-end, all-natural ’70s aesthetic (think stone fireplaces and light flooding through huge windows) while updating the property with modern necessities. Ventana’s 60 rustic-chic guest rooms are done up in restful colors of sage, russet, and cream with huge King beds and river rock fireplaces that bring the natural world inside, as well as big windows and decks that look out onto California’s most spectacular scenery—towering redwoods, craggy canyons, and white-capped waves. Spa-like bathrooms encourage relaxation with deep soaking tubs and rainfall shower heads. The luxury-camp-for-adults appeal takes hold quickly here. Overlooking a stretch of wild and unspoiled Big Sur coastline where the Santa Lucia range plunges into the Pacific, Ventana Inn & Spa sits on 243 wooded acres some 1,200 feet above the pounding surf. The resort’s trails meander through forests teeming with deer, falcon, fox, and wild turkey. The rocky shores reveal Mother Nature’s water-washed treasures to beachcombers, and cedar-walled Japanese hot tubs open to blue skies or starry nights. Tuck into locally sourced coastal dishes at The Restaurant at Ventana, where the sweeping Pacific Ocean views are just as good as the fresh fare.
In the Area
The Henry Miller Library has a display of novelist Henry Miller’s original manuscripts. Check ahead for a schedule of outdoor concerts by the likes of Philip Glass and Arcade Fire. Point Sur Lighthouse — dramatically positioned on a volcanic rock high above the Pacific — is worth the walk. The Ambrosia Burger on the deck of 1940s Nepenthe restaurant, in a cliffside house once owned by Orson Welles and his bride Rita Hayworth, is aptly named and worth the wait, which can be quite long on weekends. Hunks of California jade wash up at Jade Cove, one of the most beautiful beaches on the Big Sur coast. Jade colors range from the traditional green to light blue to pure black. Low tide is the best time to look. The Coast Gallery, established in 1958 in a historic house nestled in Redwood Canyon (1,000 feet above sea level with uninterrupted views of Big Sur and the headland), is a great place to buy art.
How to Get There
Did not meet expectations
My husband and I spent a night here to break up our drive from LA to San Fran. We opted for glamping in the red woods.
The location and setting is beautiful, as it appears in the pictures you see on their website.
The accomodation - At first glance it was fine but we found it to be a little sloppy at the finer things:
- electric blanket didn’t work, after trying for over 30mins, including crawling under the bed to unplug and plug, we texted the number and were told to keep trying and they can send someone to look at it in the morning, which didn’t help us as we were only there for one night (I expect them to know this, and we’ve also mentioned this to them multiple times). It was late at night and after a long day of driving we were expecting to sleep in a warm bed but it didn’t happen.
- my husband found someone else’s panties in the bedside table as he opened the drawer. Made us feel uncomfortable about how well the rest of the tent has been cleaned.
- we woke up the next morning and was about to make a coffee - only to find that the coffee has expired, opened another packet, also expired, found the third and last one which was also expired. So no coffee. By this stage we were about to check out so could not bother to make a fuss.
We are pretty laidback so this didn’t really affect our trip and will simply not return, for over USD600 per night , we expected the hygiene things to be done right. So should you.
To be fair they did apologise when we mentioned the panties and offered a refund of the experience fee and a $50 discount towards our dinner the night before.
The website mentions a turndown service which wasn’t provided during our stay. It didn’t affect our stay however I thought it would be worth mentioning in this review if it would bother you.
We would definitely return to the area but won’t be returning to Ventana.
Big Sur is amazing, full stop, so you really don't need to pay these very high prices to have an incredible time. The hotel is nice--we stayed in a hot tub room, and it was very private and comfortable and I really liked it. But there was nothing spectacular other than the setting. Also it got annoying to have to trek back and forth half a mile through the woods to get breakfast after three days of that -- it was kind of buggy and time-consuming, though the path is very pretty. One odd thing was that the restaurant serves dinner inside (at least in April when we were there) even though its patio overlooks the ocean? Very strange since the view is amazing--would have been a better experience if there had been more going on there at night. (Breakfast is on the patio, but we caught a lot of fog.)
Anyway, it's lovely if you don't mind spending so much money but I didn't really think the value was as over the top as the price.
From the minute you pull up to the gate and give your name, and as you drive the winding road cut into the forest to the main building, you begin to get the feeling that you are in for a treat. The design of this resort completely blends into the scenic landscape. From the mountain views to the beautiful view of the blue pacific, your senses will be wowed.
Great location and views. Scenic, well-maintained property, excellent amenities, rooms, pools. Friendly, helpful staff. Upscale but fittingly rustic, low-key with emphasis on the surroundings. Varied food options.
We have been going there since 1989. It used to be wonderful, like strawberries were 20 years ago. The long slow decline started around 2005. Amenities became less and less. Friendliness some how got lost in the process. Now, it’s even worse..I’m giving 3 stars instead of 1 or 2, out of sentimentality and respect to the old owners and staff. The property is still fantastically pretty and that’s about it. Breakfast is far away at the restaurant and that’s a ‘2,’ at best anyway. We trekked all the way from northeast Ohio..5 hours on a plane and two and a half in a rental car for almost 30 years. We’ll never go back.